I’ve mentioned before that ‘recovery’ is a big topic in our house, particularly around mental health. I’ve also mentioned that my current injury has prompted more thought in that direction.
I’ve been thinking about the lectionary readings for Sunday which feature two lepers, Naaman, a great general of the Syrian army (loving the relevance) and an unknown man who is healed by Jesus, asked not to tell anyone but then tells everyone.
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, If you are willing, you can make me clean.
Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. I am willing, he said. Be clean!
Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.
Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning:
See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.
Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
The bit of the story that fascinates me is the part where Jesus tells the man to go and present himself to the priest and complete his ceremonial cleansing.
Recovery is often about integration. I have a sore back and leg. It hurts when I sit, stand and most of all when I sneeze. No one has stopped talking to me because of it. The only community I’m excluded from is ‘people who can run’ and I could still help out by volunteering at parkrun if I can be there on a Saturday morning.
What I have realised is how lucky I am to have a support network. There have been points in the last month when I couldn’t get up, couldn’t put my own socks on or drive. I’ve had people who have helped me with that, phoned to see how I’m doing and altered arrangements to accommodate me.
Some people don’t have that support. Some people won’t recover in the sense that we might imagine.
Today a report was published which found that Scottish men are 80% more likely to take their own lives than men living in England and Wales.
Recovery is not something you do by yourself. Recovery involves the community. It involves caring for people and accepting people who may not get better but who have to find a new ‘normal’. That means that we have to be much more flexible in what we think normal is too.